This fictional (at least we believe it to be fictional) story was written by Mrs. Freda, and submitted to The Suburban, which was a weekly periodical published in Nova Scotia between 1903 and 1907. It is interesting to note that Mrs. Freda also had an account of the Oak Island Treasure Hunt published in Collier's Magazine (September 23rd 1905) titled "The Lure of Pirate Gold".
The Freda family seems to have had Oak Island connections spanning several decades as the author of this story, Josephine Freda, also submitted several photos of Oak Island for publication during the 1903-07 period, and later in 1950 a man by the name of Arthur Freda was in charge of the workings on Oak Island at that time. Without further ado, here is Josephine's Oak Island Halloween story.
A TALE OF HALLOW-E'EN
One in a series of stories published by Mrs. Freda under the series titled
The Diary of a Nova Scotia School Ma'am
The “Clique” was a secret society, composed of five members, so closely incorporated, as to be regarded by the community at large, as a unit. To enumerate, there was Timmy Murphy, as slick and polite as any prize Sunday-school scholar, yet devising mischief in his heart continually. He could pull the wool over one’s eyes with a skill and address that were truly artistic. He could pull the wool over one’s eyes with a skill and address that were truly artistic. He could tell a more plausible story than the other four combined, and his tongue had rescued the clique from many a tight corner.
Next came “Frisky” Brown, whose name was essentially descriptive of his nature. He was never to be found in a state of rest, except under compulsion. But he was just the dearest boy! If you know any one kind of boy that is more likeable than all the rest of the species, he was that kind. He was a prime favorite and always ready for any fresh escapade which might offer.
Then there was “The Dude”, whose title was thrust upon him in scornful acknowledgement of his immaculate appearance, on emerging each morning from maternal supervision. But once around the corner, he endeavored to erase from his attire, all outward signs of ultra-nicety. The spotless collar and fresh necktie were hastily removed and jammed into his coat pocket; his hair was next rumpled beautifully and his cap adjusted at a rakish angle with the peak over his left ear. The nearest mud-puddle completed this readjustment of his morning toilet. There was no room for reasonable doubt that The Dude fully realized the ignominy attached to a starched collar and shiny shoes.
The “Captain”, who was a born leader, and “Puddin’” Smith, whose name is also self-explanatory, completed the circle of friends, and a right jolly crowd they were.
A favorite place of rendezvous was the “Boat-Shop”, whose proprietor made and repaired boats of all sorts and welcomed the clique at all times and seasons. He was always ready to loan then his tools or donate a dab of paint or putty towards the building of their little yachts, which was a favorite occupation in winter. These little yachts, from two to three feet long, were constructed with considerable skill, and were exact duplicates of favorite boats belonging to the Yacht Club. In summer the boys held races on Saturday afternoons as regularly and with as much enthusiasm as their elders.
In the Boat-shop, too, on stormy days they swapped yarns and held many a dark and fearsome conference. To this resort, too, many a night, they dragged driftwood, and made roaring fires in the great box-stove; and here, betimes, they cooked and ate the food, pilfered with painful stealth from garden-plots or cellar-bins at home; any and all of which they might have had for the asking, but which were as dust to their palates, unless secured with cautious cunning. And after supper they lounged about the fire and pretended they were pirates, or shipwrecked mariners, or something equally attractive.
Outside their own special circle, probably the clique extracted most clear enjoyment out of Uncle John Moss. Uncle John spent a good deal of his time either in doing things for the boys, or in escaping from them.
Uncle John was an old, broken down sailor. He lived alone not far from the school-house, and the clique seldom failed to call on their way to and from school. He had many accomplishments, but chiefest of all, he could lie. He lied with such unblushing effrontery, and such artistic effulgence of detail, that the boys fairly turned green with envy of his skill. In the course of his very ordinary existence he had hunted lions and fished whales; he had been through earthquakes and cyclones; (he called them sizzle-ones); but, best of all, he had seen, yes, and could describe real ghosts. He was always ready to help the boys with a kite or yacht, except at rare intervals when a deadly feud was in progress, on account of some too strenuous practical joke perpetrated upon him.
For some time before Hallow-E’en, Uncle John’s patience had been sorely tried. The boys had sprinkled pepper on his stove and tobacco in his teapot. They had laid a trap for him by which he had got a good ducking. Worst of all, they shaved the face of his beloved cat, while The Dude, dressed as a young lady, called upon Uncle John, and was most politely entertained. The old man laid crafty plans for speedy retribution.
About this time he began to fill their heads with stories of hidden treasure. The story of Cocos Island was recounted with several artistic additions. Sadie Mason’s treasure in the Magdalens was discussed in solemn conclave. Then he enlarged on the story of Oak Island, with its millions in gold and jewels, lying almost at their doors. He hinted that he could tell a thing or two about the location of this treasure to a few discreet and close-mouthed friends. Having brought their curiosity to the proper pitch, he extracted a solemn and blood-curdling oath of secrecy, and confided to them his story.
He told them how, coming across by boat from Western Shore, one dark and starless night, he had been attracted by a strange and lurid glare in the curve of Smith’s Cove. Paddling softly inshore, he distinctly saw a dark, wild looking man in broad, plumed hat, flowing cloak, great top-boots and armed to the teeth. Instinctively he recognized Captain Kidd, or rather, his ghost, who was directing the removal of three great casks which were being rolled to the beach by three giant negroes. He described with great prodigality of detail, how the iron hoops of the casks glowed red as blood and flamed up when the hands of the negroes touched them, yet never really burned away. He told how the gold chinked as the casks were loaded into a queer looking waiting boat, and how, on their departure, he had followed at a discrete distance, and witnessed the ultimate deposit of the treasure at a point which he persistently refused to disclose.
By this time the boys began to lie awake at night, to whisper secretly by day, and to dream of large divisions of recovered treasure. In fancy they sat around a camp-fire and plunged their hands deep in masses of shining coins, or watched great strings of jewels slip through their fingers in a glittering stream. By the last of October, Uncle John had worked them up to the proper climax. If they would come to him at dark on a certain night he would disclose to them the hiding-place.
For days there was much sharpening and secreting of picks and shovels, and making of torches and bags in which to carry home the spoil – hidden where? Only Uncle John knew and he would not even whisper it until the date agreed upon. In their excitement they quite forgot that that date was Hallow-E’en.
At length came the appointed time. The clique, having severally presented plausible excuses for the evening’s absence from home, trooped to Uncle John’s abode. There, with a final charge of extreme caution, and a last solemn pledge of secrecy, the old man named the place. He directed them to proceed to the spot and begin to dig, and as soon as he finished up his chores, he would come across in his boat and join them.
They walked, when they did not run, a long three miles to the rendezvous, reaching the spot nearly an hour ahead of the time Uncle John had promised to arrive. The night was dark and gloomy. Not a star was visible. The wind was rising and fitful gusts rustled the trees about the lonely little clearing. But the clique at once set to work to dig in the spot designated by Uncle John. Beginning with great enthusiasm, nearly an hour elapsed before their zeal began to cool. No Uncle John appeared.
Suddenly, from out the gloom sounded a long, blood curdling groan. A chain clanked and a flickering, bluish flame glimmered under a tree on the edge of the clearing. The boys dropped their tools, and, with starting eyes, drew together at the edge of the excavation. Cold horror chilled them to the marrow. Every hair on their heads prickled as they watched the sulphurous light resolve itself into the figure of a man – yet not a man, for they could plainly see the entire framework; its whole ghostly shape flickered with uncertain cloudy flame. A moment more they gazed, and the gruesome shape lifted a skeleton arm, all dripping with blue flame; they heard its bony fingers rattle as it pointed towards them, while another awful groan broke the stillness.
It was too much. The clique turned and fled wildly away through the darkness. “they stayed not for brake, and they stopped not for stone”, till, more dead than alive, each crept trembling into his own little bed.
Back in the lonely clearing, Uncle John and the young medical student regarded their evening’s work with keen satisfaction.
“By gosh, it looked mighty fearsome”, said Uncle John. “I felt kinder scared myself, for all I knowed it were you workin’ the thing.”
“Yes, sir; he is a bird, all right,” laughed the young chap, as he rattled the skeleton back into its box. “If the boys have no further use for these picks and shovels, we might as well remove them, Uncle John.”
Folks say that even the oldest inhabitant can scarcely remember when Hallow’E’en passed so quietly in our village.
We hope you enjoyed this story by an author local to the Oak Island area.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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